Ministry of Happiness sounded strange to Nigerians who witnessed the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha swearing in Mrs Ogechi Ololo, as the new Commissioner for Happiness of the State.
The Governor, swearing in the 28 new Commissioners and the 27 Transition Committee Chairmen representing the 27 Local Government Councils in the State, at the Imo International Convention Centre, Owerri, charged the new appointees to be good Ambassadors always.
He called on the Transition Committee Chairmen to ensure all on-going projects, including schools, are completed.
Okorocha added that the appointment is not business as usual, saying sharp practices, indolence, laziness and corruption would not be tolerated by his Government.
“You are the privileged group that has the opportunity to make names for yourselves. You have been called to duty to help us to achieve our vision in the Rescue Mission Project”.
The Governor explained that the Transition Committee Chairmen have a maximum of six months to stay in office, after which an election will be conducted to give way to elected Chairmen.
The Governor’s Spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, when asked about the responsibility of the Commissioner of Happiness, said the Commissioner’s job is an innovation that should be copied by other Governors, emphasizing that the Governor wants to always make people happy.
“There is nothing unusual about the appointment”.
According to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report, Nigeria is the 95th Happiest Country in the World.
As unusual as it may sound, the Ministry of Happiness exists in other Countries like the United Arab Emirates, India, Bhutan and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, this is the first time the Ministry of Happiness would be recognized in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.
United Arab Emirates
In February 2016, the United Arab Emirate’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is renowned worldwide as an innovative leader, announced the appointment of Mohamed Saeed Ghaith Al Mazrouei as the Country’s first Minister of State for Happiness.
Following a major cabinet reshuffle in October 2017, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi became the new Minister of State for Happiness and wellbeing.
According to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report, the UAE is the 21st happiest Country in the World.
Responsibility of the Minister of State for Happiness
The Ministry aims at promoting UAE’s plans, programmes and policies, in order to promote the happiness of the society.
One of the duties of this Ministry is to promote happiness and a positive attitude in Government, and life.
According to Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi:
“Happiness is a serious job for governments. The main job for the government is to create happiness and an environment where people can flourish, reach their potentials and choose to be happy.
In 2011, the UN encouraged the member countries to look at happiness for a holistic approach for development”.
The United Arab Emirates Government aims to make the country among the top five happiest countries in the World by 2021, hence the need for the Ministry.
Meanwhile, in May 2016, the Government unveiled a Customer Happiness Formula (CHF), aimed at providing effective tools for Government Employees to achieve happiness goals.
The CHF highlights Government’s commitment towards providing services to achieve customer happiness, as well as ensure the happiness of the entire community.
Department of Happiness in India
In July 2016, India established its first Department of Happiness in the poor State of Madhya Pradesh, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its first Minister.
Chouhan said happiness will not come into the lives of people merely with materialistic possessions or development, but by infusing positivity in their lives.
India became the third Country to establish a Department of Happiness after Bhutan and the United Arab Emirates.
Duties of the Ministry
The Ministry is responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens as well as indulging psychologists to counsel people on how to always be happy.
According to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report, India is the 122nd happiest Country in the World.
In October 2013, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro created the Vice Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the Venezuelan people, in order to coordinate all the programmes created by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez to alleviate poverty.
The Ministry headed by Rafael Ríos, was responsible for attending to the old men and women, young boys and girls, the disabled, homeless and Venezuela’s most vulnerable.
Its duties also include supervising collaborative social programs and coordinating over 30 social programs launched by the Venezuelan Government.
According to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report, Venezuela is the 82nd happiest Country in the World.
Bhutan is the smallest State in Asia which lies between the borders of China and India.
In South Asia, Bhutan ranks the first in economic freedom, ease of doing business and peace, second in per capita income and is the least corrupt country as at 2016.
Since 1971, the Country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress.
Instead, it measures prosperity through formal principles of Gross National Happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.
The Bhutanese Government believes every citizen’s pursuit of happiness is its main goal. This goal is enshrined in article 9 of the Country’s constitution which states that:
“The State shall endeavour to apply the Principles of State Policy set out in this Article to ensure a good quality of life for the people of Bhutan in a progressive and prosperous country that is committed to peace and amity in the world.
“The State shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.
“The State shall endeavour to create a civil society free of oppression, discrimination and violence, based on the rule of law, protection of human rights and dignity, and to ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people”.
According to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report, Bhutan is the 97th Happiest Country in the World.